North Lanarkshire Council to set up fund to help Universal Credit applicants
North Lanarkshire Council has said it will establish a fund to help tenants who find themselves in financial difficulty as a result of the five-week waiting time for Universal Credit payments.
The council’s communities and housing committee agreed that a fund would be made available for current tenants struggling to cope with the impact of making a Universal Credit claim or migrating to Universal Credit.
The average rent arrears for tenants on Universal Credit have risen drastically from £499 in 2014/15 to £705 for 2018/19. This year’s figure continues to follow the same trend.
Several tenants who have moved to Universal Credit from housing benefit, which was paid directly to their rent account from the start of their claim, have never experienced rent arrears before and it is difficult for them to understand why they this is happening.
Stephen Llewellyn, head of Housing Solutions, said: “We fully understand the concerns people have over the implementation of Universal Credit and offer significant support to tenants and low-income families facing the challenges presented by the changes to the benefits system. It’s vital we address this issue from the outset to help tackle the causes of poverty and deprivation and stop people from falling further into arrears.
“We are able to recover the money once our tenant has received their payment, so it’s technically a short-term solution to alleviate the stress and uncertainty they are experiencing when claiming Universal Credit.”